The second day of action in stage two sees the Group F teams take centre stage. Here’s the docket for today and our picks.
Finland (1-1) vs. Croatia (1-1) – 14.30
Greece (0-2) vs. Spain (1-1) – 17.45
Slovenia (1-1) vs. Italy (2-0) – 21.00
The bookies favour Croatia (-4.5), Spain (-6.5), and Slovenia (-3.5). BiE’s power rankings stirred some controversy as we rated all six Group F teams in our top eight of the tournament so far. Two of these teams however aren’t going to be hanging around. In terms of need, Slovenia knows an early start is big so I’m going with the home team to win. Spain’s number looks about right and I like them too. Finland and Croatia looks made to go down to the wire. I’m picking Croatia but to win by less than the bookies say.
From Fox Sports via the syndication wire, BallinEurope’ll put this one up here for the sheer audacity of it. Below runs exactly what the BiE headline advertises: The sports network’s admittedly “way too early” 2014 mock NBA draft.
And though it is indeed way too early to be thinking about June 2014, BiE’s already looking forward to seeing the exportation of Croatian ballers Dario Saric and Mario Hezonja to the NBA. Hezonja chose not to participate for Team Croatia in the FIBA U19 World Championship wrapping today, ol’ Super Dario has done his dominant-level best, ranking first in rebounding (12.3 per game), second in points (22.4), second in assists (5.5), plus Worlds-leading marks in minutes played (36.6), free-throw attempts (8.0) and makes (6.1); check out LiveBasketball.TV-produced highlight clip from Saric’s 30-point effort against championship-contending Team Serbia run below.
Naturally, specialists NBA Draft and Draft Express also have their mock drafts up (as do many others in the blogosphere, but only Draft Express appears not to pencil in the various teams with their finish for 2013-14). NBA Draft likes Hezonja and Saric to go at nos. 15 and 17, respectively, while the ‘Express has the guy Fox calls “potentially the next Drazen Petrovic” (really?) landing with a lottery team at no. 8 and Saric hearing his name called at … number 22? (Really?!?)
Roll the tape!
Because it’s never too early to start looking ahead to Eurobasket 2013 – wait a minute, there’s only 11 weeks left until tipoff? Definitely not too early, then, to take a look at the formative rosters for the big Continental tournament.
While only a few national teams (Croatia and Lithuania among them) have released preliminary rosters at this point and a few major leagues still playing (Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, etc.), we can at least deduce which NBA players will or won’t be playing. After all, the rosters of 93.3% of NBA teams have finished their 2012-13 season – and the Miami Heat have no Europeans!
Below is a rundown of each team and the status of their potential NBA players. A few high-profile draft choices and rights-owned guys expected to jump over soon are also peppered in, along with links to appropriate sources. If you find/hear of anything relevant to the list, please comment below.
And we’ll do this group by group…
Belgium – no current NBA players
France – Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards) is out for ’13 but hints he’ll be back in the future.
Ten days ago, based on a L’Equipe report, website Catch-and-Shoot described Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)’ Eurobasket status as *très incertain*, and after another punishing NBA season seems unlikely.
Thereafter, Taking the Charge presents a chat with Dario Saric, a.k.a. The Next Big Thing Out of Croatia. Saric is surprisingly frank about his plans for the immediate future with regard to the NBA Draft and possibility continuing on with Cibona Zagreb. And by the way, yes, he expects his fully-loaded Team Croatia side to take the gold in the upcoming FIBA U19 World Championship – and honestly, BiE’s gotta side with the wunderkind on this one.
Also joining the show this week is Matthew Tynan of the San Antonio Spurs-centric ESPN TrueHoop Network site 48 Minutes of Hell. Tynan weighs in on Tony Parker’s awesomeness, Tim Duncan’s legacy, Tiago Splitter’s recent emergence as a key factor in San Antonio’s success and the bittersweet difficulty of having to interview Gregg Popovich. Tynan offers us his own Official Fearless Prediction for the NBA Finals, as does Hein himself – and BiE must say that both are surprising, really.
Finally, the movie of the week is a gem of a basketball-centric romantic comedy from the 1990s, Forget Paris. This one was directed, written and co-produced by that no. 1 Los Angeles Clippers fan Billy Crystal in an apparent attempt to get the sports-obsessed guys out there to check out what might be otherwise considered a “chick flick.”
Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter http://heinnews.com/feed/taking-the-charge/ into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.
The easy choice for the European basketball fan would of course be Gonzaga. With a realistic shot at winning the whole enchilada and having perfected that up-tempo style for which this basketball program has become known, why not get on the bandwagon? After a topsy-turvy season during which it felt like a new no. 1 topped polls weekly, the Bulldogs finally emerged atop the ratings, only to see that ranking immediately erased thanks to bracket-building.
Of course, one could eliminate the Zags from contention for your Tournament-time devotion on a technicality. Guy Landry Edi’s hometown according to the NCAA and media sources is Paris, France. However, serious followers of FIBA ball will recall that, after playing with Team France in the U16s, he then suited up – thus changed his eligible nationality in FIBA terms – for Côte d’Ivoire in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (and subsequently the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship).
So could it be that Edi is finally worn down? Or, put another way, what happened to this guy in 2013? Since the New Year’s Eve game at Oklahoma State, Edi has totaled nearly as many personal fouls (11) as points (16, including seven in the Seniors Day Game blowout against Portland). Heck, he hasn’t scored a point since January 24, since going 0-for-13.
BiE wonders if we’ll ever see this player again (and thinks, yeah, maybe in Pro A next season):
The NBA All-Star What Contest? Over in the ‘States, basketball superstars created highlight-reel clips while facing little opposition … so forget canned exhibitions (especially Flight White’s sad showing) and check out a show most missed: Croatian wunderkind Mario Hezonja submitted the dunk of the weekend with an incredible one-handed finish to an alley-oop pass from fellow youth-ball player Joan Creus in FC Barcelona’s 67-66 squeaker of a LEB Gold league victory over Leyma Basquet.
The 17-year-old Hezonja went on to put in a game-high 17 points, most of which were highlight-worthy. See the man-among-boys for yourself below — and remember the name.
Some exciting news for folks in Zagreb from the English-language section of the news portal Croatia Week: Basketball fans in the big city may be treated to a unique Brooklyn Nets-Cibona Zagreb exhibition match in October in observation of the 20th anniversary of the death of all-time great Drazen Petrovic.